Friday June 30, 2006
Scud running. That's what pilots call flying "down on the deck." And that's what I did today, for an hour and 48 minutes.
Wheels up at 6 am exactly, with a southerly breeze of 5 mph on the ground. Shot up to 400 agl within a few seconds and found myself flying sideways, away from the flight path shown on the GPS. Not a good start. I dropped down to 150 agl and found I could stay on the correct bearing, but was only moving between 15 and 20 mph. I considered turning around and landing back at Hays, but I decided to push on and see if the wind would shift a bit more to the south, which would lessen the headwind.
It was soon apparent that the "best" wind conditions were close to the ground, so I dropped to 100 agl and kept it there for the rest of the flight. Since very tall trees and silos, not to mention water towers, cell towers, radio towers and other sundry structures can be taller than 100 feet, I kept a sharp eye out for obstructions.
The wind was extremely variable. A few times I shot along at 25 mph for a minute or two, only to to be slowed down to 3 mph for an extended period. In other words I was working very hard to stay on course, maintain altitude, not hit anything, and wasn't making much progress.
This was a far cry from the predicted 5 to 10 mph southerly wind that was predicted. So much for the reliability of weather prognostication.
Finally, after an hour and a half I decided it wasn't worth fighting the wind any longer, and scouted for a good location to land. I spotted a highway, which would make it easy for the RV to drive in, and located a house next to the highway with a nice field behind it. That's where I landed. On the Ludwig homestead.
Mrs. Ludwig welcomed me in, called Rusty and gave him directions, and then provided a hearty breakfast for all of us when Rusty and Michael arrived. There are truly remarkable people. Then she called the local newspaper, which sent out a reporter, I did an interview, and we'll spend the rest of the day resting and hoping for better weather tomorrow.